Travel During Pregnancy
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During your pregnancy, there will most likely come a time when travel is necessary, whether it's for business or pleasure. You can't stop living your life just because there's a baby on the way, but there are some things that should be kept in mind when travelling for two.
If travel is necessary, it is easiest and safest during the second trimester when the discomforts of early pregnancy subside but your bump hasn't yet begun to interfere with normal activity. Travel will be more complicated during the first and third trimesters than during the second trimester (weeks 13-27).
Morning sickness, frequent bathroom breaks, and the sleepiness of the first twelve weeks all conspire to make long-distance travel more difficult for an expectant mother. In the last three months of gestation, early labour and discomfort due to ever-increasing size is the primary concern. Even during the first and third trimesters, travel is usually safe for a woman with an uncomplicated pregnancy, as long as certain precautions are taken.
A car trip can be a tiring experience, even when not pregnant. On a long road-trip, be sure to schedule frequent stops for bathroom breaks, and to stretch your legs. Sitting for long periods of time during the third trimester increases the risk of blood clots (deep vein thrombosis), so be sure to get out and stretch your legs every couple of hours, even in the unlikely event that you don't need to use the toilet.
Staying comfortable. If you're driving, be sure to sit far enough back so that your belly isn't rubbing against the steering wheel. It may be preferable to have someone else drive so that you can stretch your legs and shift positions more frequently.
Motion sickness. If you're prone to motion sickness, pregnancy usually makes it even worse during the early months. Typically, dimenhydrinate and diphenhydramine (two common over-the-counter anti-nausea medications) are safe to take during pregnancy, while some other anti-nausea medicines may not be. Acupressure bands also seem to help some motion sickness sufferers, and are a drug-free way to combat nausea. Ask your caregiver what remedies are safe for you.
Seat belt safety. Wearing your seat belt is just as important during pregnancy as at any other time. Protect yourself and your baby from accidents by wearing both shoulder belt and lap belt while the vehicle is in motion. Pull the lap belt snug against the top of your thighs, below the belly to avoid injury to your baby in the event of a crash.
All the safety precautions of car travel apply to air travel. There are a few more things to consider as well, making air travel more complicated. Some airlines won't allow pregnant women to fly during the last month or so of pregnancy, mostly because they'd rather not have to deliver your baby for you. Check with your airline before planning your trip.
Flying increases radiation exposure, but not so much that a flight or two should concern you. Frequent flying may be a concern, so jet-setters and airline workers may find themselves home-bound early on in the pregnancy. As with car travel, a pregnant woman may need more frequent bathroom breaks, more space to stretch, and help from those around her.
Deep vein thrombosis is an increased concern during the last trimester, so be sure to stretch and move around as often as possible.
Ask your caregiver. For an uncomplicated pregnancy, occasional air travel is usually considered safe, but seek your doctor's opinion about your particular case. It's better to be safe than sorry.
This article is not meant to replace medical advice. Please consult your doctor with any questions about travelling safely while pregnant.